A piece of pottery with ancient Hebrew writing was recently found. When I say ancient, I mean from around the time of King David (1000 BC). It was found at an archaeological dig in Israel (read page 1 and page 2 of the official Qeiyafa Ostracon Chronicle). From the picture below, you can see that the ancient Hebrew font was different than what is commonly used now, and the medium was broken pottery shards (not paper). A pottery fragment with writing on it is called an “ostracon.” Despite the unique font and material, notice the covenantal and theological subject:
you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
[and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.
The [square] brackets indicate a suggested reading from the archaeologists and linguists who have worked on the text. A reconstructed drawing of the Ostracon has been generated through much effort and toil:
A CHALLENGE: Taking this text, I have a mild challenge for my Hebrew class. See if you can add vowel pointings to the Hebrew based upon the English translation given here, and the corresponding block-script. Identify the verbs and nouns, and see what you come up with. Theologically, can you relate this to the Old Testament? What does this text say about Hebrew writing in the ancient world, and the impact of the Torah on the kingdom of God at that time? Finally, this inscription plays a part in a larger debate about the historicity of Israel under the United Kingdom. That archaeological discussion is larger than I will explore here, but click here to learn more.